Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka: Travel/Tourist Information Guide

Tissamaharama is a rural town located in Hambantota District, Southern Province of Sri Lanka. The town has a rich history, many archaeological ruins, nearby Yala National Park and Kataragama with its colourful festivals and temples. The town mainly serves as a starting point for visits to Yala National Park and Kataragama. The history of the town dates back to the 3rd century B.C. when it used to be the capital of the Sinhalese Kingdom of Ruhuna. The town was earlier known by the name Mahagama and the town of Mahagama was founded by King Devanam Piya Tissa. The town gained its popularity under the reign of King Kavantissa.

Getting There

The town is located about 270 km away from Colombo and travellers can reach the town by using the A2 main road which passes through Galle and Hambantota. There are buses to Tissamaharama that takes 9 hours from Colombo, 1 hour from Hambantota and 1 hour from Kataragama. It is not possible to find any trains to reach the town.

Places to Visit

Tissa Maha DagobaTissa Maha DagobaTissa Wewa ReservoirTissa Wewa ReservoirTissa Wewa ReservoirYatala DagobaYatala DagobaYatala Dagoba

Tissa Wewa Reservoir

Tissa Wewa is a man-made reservoir which was built by King Kavantissa in 2nd century B.C. There is also a memorable scenic view at Tissa Wewa with plenty of aquatic birds flying across the waters. The lake is located about 1.5 km from the town centre.

Tissa Maha Dagoba

Tissa Maha Dagoba is one of the main attractions of Tissamaharama. It is one of the 16 most sacred sites for Buddhist in Sri Lanka. It is believed to have been originally built around 200 B.C. by King Kavantissa, a king of Ruhunu. The white dagoba has circumference of 165 m and stands 55.8 m high. It is thought to have held a sacred tooth relic and forehead bone relic. Next to the dagoba, there is a statue of Queen Viharamahadevi.

Yatala Dagoba

This is another dagoba that was built by King Mahanaaga 2300 years ago due to birth of his son Yatala Tissa and his safe escape from an assassination attempt in Anuradhapura. The site is surrounded by lotus ponds and carvings have elephant details. There is also an ancient bidet sitting outside. The site is an easy walk from the town.

Santagiri Dagoba

Santagiri Dagoba is another monument in Tissamaharama. It is 55 m in height and 165 m in circumference. The dagoba was built by King Mahanaga in 3rd century B.C. and houses the forehead relic of Lord Buddha.


New Cabanas Restaurant

This is a simple, open-sided restaurant with well-priced rice and curry. Guests can enjoy regular fresh seafood specials that are right off the grill. Main dishes change between Rs 300-1200. Opening hours: 11 am – 10 pm. Address: Kataragama Road, Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka.

Refresh Hotel

This restaurant is a Western-style restaurant that has a peaceful setting. Food ranged from pizzas to pasta to local dishes. Main dishes change between Rs 800-1500. Opening hours: 11 am – 10 pm. Address: Kataragama Road, Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka.

Royal Restaurant

This restaurant serves cheap and tasty curries that draw local families and travellers. It has an open-sided dining room. Main dishes change between Rs 250-700. Opening hours: 8 am – 10 pm. Address: Main St, Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka.

Where to Stay

Blue Turtle HotelGaga Bees YalaHotel ChandrikaNature ResortRichards CabanasRiver Face InnThe Safari HotelTraveller's Home Hotel

Nature Resort

This hotel is located 1 km away from Tissa Wewa. The hotel features clean and comfortable guest rooms with air conditioning. Free Wi-Fi access is available at all areas. The property is located 400 metres form Tissamaharama Bus Station. Rooms come with a TV, sofa seating area and ironing facilities. There is a 24 hour front desk at the hotel. Guests can benefit from car rental services. Guests can also enjoy local Sri Lankan meals with continental flavours at Nature Resort’s in-house restaurant. Address: Aluthgoda Road, Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka.

The Safari Hotel

This hotel is a 20 minute drive from Yala National Park. It features an outdoor pool and free Wi-Fi. The rooms are decorated in warm shades of brown and come with a flat-screen satellite TV and rainshower facilities. Each also comes with a personal safe and minibar. Free private parking is available on site. There is a 24 hours front desk at the property.

Hotel Chandrika

This hotel features an outdoor pool and an in-house restaurant. There is a 24 hour front desk at the property. Free Wi-Fi is available at all public areas. The property is located a 30 minute drive to the scenic Yala National Park and Kataragama. Rooms come with a flat screen satellite TV, tea/coffee making facilities and a veranda with a seating area. Guests can enjoy a drink by the pool bar or relax in the hot spring bath. Address: Kataragama Road, Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka.

Gaga Bees Yala

The guest house features free Wi-Fi in public areas. Guests can relax on the terrace. Rooms come with air conditioning and views of rice field and mountain. The property can assist guests for arranging safari and city tours. Yala National Park is located a 25 minute drive away from the property. The restaurant serves regional dishes, as well as international cuisine. Address: Sandagirigama, Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka.

Richards Cabanas

This bed and breakfast provides private parking and rooms with free Wi-Fi access. The property is located 30 km away from Yala National Park and 35 km from Bundala National Park. Rooms are fitted with a terrace offering garden views. Rooms come with air conditioning, cable TV and an en suite bathroom with shower facilities and toiletries. Certain units come with river views. The property can help with arrangement of activities such as camping, bird watching trips or lake tours. Address: No 38, Galmadawwa, Punchi Akurugoda, Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka.

Traveller’s Home Hotel

This hotel offers a spa and wellness centre and a restaurant. Free Wi-Fi access is available. Rooms come with air conditioning, a balcony and an iPod dock. Extras include a seating area. Free bikes are available at the property. Free private parking is available on site. Address: 99 Cachcheriyagama, Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka.

Blue Turtle Hotel

This hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool and it is located 2.2 km from the Tissamaharama Bus Station. Free Wi-Fi access is available in the public areas at the property. Rooms come with a patio and private bathrooms come with a shower and a bidet. Guests can enjoy pool and garden view from the room. Guests will find a Jacuzzi, a front desk and a garden. Free private parking is available on site. Address: 119/2 Mahasenpura, Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka.

River Face Inn

This guest accommodation features barbeque facilities. There is a 24 hour front desk at the property. Rooms come with a fan, a seating area and a wardrobe. The reception can assist with luggage storage space and ironing services. Travel arrangements can be made at the tour desk. Guests can also utilize the car rental services to get around the area. Address: 530/5, Gangasiripura, Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka.

Day Trips and Excursions

Bundala National ParkBundala National ParkBundala National ParkBundala National ParkYala National ParkYala National ParkYala National ParkYala National Park

Yala National Park

Yala National Park is the most visited and the second largest national park in Sri Lanka. It extends over two provinces of Hambantota District of Southern Province and Monaragala District of Uva Province. The gateway to Yala National Park is Tissamaharama and it is easy to access the park from the town.  It is located 24 km from Tissamaharama. The park consists of five blocks and two of them are open to the public. The blocks have their individual names. The park covers 979 square kilometres. Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900 and it is one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka with Wilpattu National Park. Yala became a national park in 1938. The park is best known for its variety of wild animals. It is also an important park for the conservation of Sri Lankan elephants, Sri Lankan leopards and aquatic birds. The park is located in the dry semi-arid climatic region and the area receives rain mainly during the northeast monsoon. Yala National Park is also one of the 70 important Bird Areas in Sri Lanka because it harbours 215 species including six endemic species. The number of mammals from the park is 44 and it has one of the highest leopard densities in the worlds.

Bundala National Park

Bundala National Park is an internationally important area for migratory water birds in Sri Lanka. It is home to 197 species of birds. The park was designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1969 and again designated to a national park in 1993.  The park is Sri Lanka’s fourth UNESCO Biosphere Reserve due to its wealth of wetland birds. It is also possible to see flocks of over 1000 Greater Flamingos here as well as other species. The park is home to 48 reptile species, 52 species of butterfly, 15 species of amphibian and 32 mammal species. The park covers an area of 6216 hectares and it falls within the south eastern arid zone and the general climate is hot and dry.